WINNIPEG - Go back - waaaay back to the winter of 2013. It was then when General Manager Kevin Cheveldayoff and the Winnipeg Jets took an interest in Brian Strait, one of the newest recruits in this year's edition of the club.
After spending more than four years with the team that drafted him in the third round seven years prior, the defenceman's time as a Pittsburgh Penguin had come to an end after being placed on waivers.
Cheveldayoff put a claim in hoping to secure the services of the now 28-year-old, but so, too, did the struggling New York Islanders.
It was a new look Michael Hutchinson that took to the ice in training camp today.
With a new two-year contract signed earlier in the summer, Hutchinson had a new mask designed and new dark equipment ordered in for 2016-2017.
"I've been working with the same painter for a few years, and he's unbelievably creative," said the 26-year-old Hutchinson. "I just like something that's simple and easy to see from far away. We talked and we liked how the matte wooden finish worked out a couple years ago. So we decided to go with a matte finish again.
"From there, he just came up with an amazing design and the colours really kind of pop and go with the jersey."
WINNIPEG - Connor Hellebuyck will remember the World Cup of Hockey and his Team North America teammates fondly.
"It was ridiculous how fast that team was. It was so fun to watch no matter where you were, bleachers or front row," Hellebuyck said of the exciting under-23 squad. "Just knowing that I got to play with that is a huge honour for me. I'm glad to be a part of that fast team, and to be honest I think we should still be in it. We took five minutes off and it cost us the tourney."
That five minutes happened against Russia, when North America gave up four unanswered goals and ultimately dropped a 4-3 decision. The loss would prove costly, as North America was eliminated from playoff contention with the Russian victory over Finland a couple days later.
WINNIPEG - Eric Comrie learned more than he ever thought possible last year.
Now, after a whirlwind campaign with the Manitoba Moose, the determined young goalie is ready for more.
Comrie entered the season as the backup to Connor Hellebuyck, but after he was recalled to the Jets following an injury to Ondrej Pavelec, the 21-year-old became the de facto starter for the team's top affiliate.
Comrie calls it as a "fortunate" turn of events for him, personally, to get such valuable experience in his first pro season, but there was nothing lucky about it. He took the opportunity and ran with it, posting excellent numbers on a young Moose team that finished the year 15 games below .500.
WINNIPEG - For the first time in years, Winnipeg Jets defenceman Tyler Myers is coming into camp 100 percent healthy.
The 26-year-old had been dealing with a hip injury for "a couple of years," but despite maintaining his near 25-minute per-game average in ice time late last season, he was unable to ignore it anymore. The defenceman had a pair of procedures done shortly after playing his last game on Mar. 22, and was then a spectator for the next 18 weeks as his knee, then his hip, fully recovered.
WINNIPEG - Bryan Little hasn't even met him yet, but the very idea of centering a line with Patrik Laine is enough to put a smile on his face.
"I've watched him quite a bit at the World Cup and all throughout the summer," Little said. "He's a special player and that would be a pretty fun guy to have on my wing. … But I know that once camp rolls around, everything can get shifted and once the season starts, (the coaches) can play with the combinations all year."
With seven members of the Winnipeg Jets set to return from the World Cup in the coming days, the pace at Iceplex is expected to only increase according to Bryan Little.
"I'm sure they would rather go deeper in the tournament, but it's nice to have them back and healthy," Little said of Blake Wheeler, Dustin Byfuglien, Mark Scheifele, Jacob Trouba, Connor Hellebuyck, and Patrik Laine.
WINNIPEG -- Day 1 of training camp may have only been skating tests, but the players know the competition for spots is only beginning.
"I think there is a little bit of a turnover with a lot of young guys, some new guys coming up that are going to have a great opportunity to make a difference in camp here to see where they might end up in the line-up," said veteran Drew Stafford. "It pushes guys to be their best. I think that's what we need to take a step forward as an organization."
Stafford is fresh off his fourth 20+ goal season of his career, and plans to show younger players trying to crack the line-up how to be a pro every day the only way he knows how: By example.
The Jets head home with an 0-3 record following losses to the Oilers, Canucks and Flames.
Main training camp kicks off this Friday at MTS Iceplex.
"I think we got better as the game went on," Moose Head Coach Pascal Vincent said. "Today, regardless of the score, the players were more in sync. There are some changes from what they're used to on the ice to what we expect, and that got better. … We wanted to introduce to the players what it takes to play at this level. For them to go to the big camp, the Jets camp now, they know the language we're talking about and a bit more about what we expect."
Putting an NHL jersey on for the first time can bring on a lot of emotions.
Nerves, excitement, and anticipation can bundle up inside a player in the minutes leading up to puck drop.
That was the case for 2016 draftees Luke Green and Jordy Stallard.
"I played a few pre-season games in Saint John, but it was nothing like last night," Green said, referring to his QMJHL team, the Saint John Sea Dogs. "It's a lot faster. Guys are all battling for spots in line-ups, you can tell how hungry everyone is."
Jansen Harkins put the Winnipeg Jets prospects on the board in the opening period, but it wouldn't hold up, as the Calgary Flames peppered Jets netminders with 27 shots in the final two periods, en route to a 4-1 Calgary win.
"We have to make some better decisions with the puck. I thought we had a good start to the first and the second. Then we started to make some little plays," said coach Pascal Vincent. "When it's not there, it's not there. That's pro hockey.
"We just have to make smarter decisions overall. But that's the learning process."
There was a common theme among the Winnipeg Jets prospects and coaching staff this morning at the South Okanagan Events Centre: excitement.
Tonight, the Jets will open the 2016 Young Stars Classic against up-and-coming players in the Calgary Flames organization to kick off the sixth year of the event.
"I'm for sure excited to get the first game underway," said 2016 first-round selection Logan Stanley. "I'm a little bit nervous to throw on the sweater for the first time in game action, but I think the guys are excited and so am I."
The Winnipeg Jets issued the following statement today with regards to Bobby Hull's attendance at the Winnipeg Jets Hall of Fame festivities on Oct. 19 & 20:
"We have been informed Mr. Hull will not be attending our inaugural Hall of Fame induction ceremony for personal reasons. The Winnipeg Jets Hall of Fame was created to acknowledge the rich history of our team which began with the World Hockey Association and quickly reached international significance through the achievements of the Hotline. Accordingly, we are deeply disappointed that Mr. Hull has declined our invitation to join his teammates, Anders Hedberg and Ulf Nillson when we honour their collective accomplishments on October 19th and 20th."
WINNIPEG - In preparation for their professional initiation - the annual Young Stars Classic in Penticton, British Columbia - the Winnipeg Jets prospects took the ice before taking the skies, tuning their skills for tomorrow's opening game against the Calgary Flames.
Finally. After more than five long, arduous months in the sun, it's time to head inside.
The Winnipeg Jets Hockey Club today announced it will host its third annual Fan Fest from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 24 at MTS Iceplex. Fan Fest is an outdoor event which will kick off the start of a new hockey season, giving passionate Jets' fans the chance to get up close and personal with some of the players. Fans will also have the opportunity to take in a variety of fun, family-friendly and interactive activities.
The first 3,000 fans on site will receive a FREE complimentary pancake breakfast starting at 9 a.m.
Team USA forward enjoys relaxing day off Sunday, preparing for next challenge in Team Finland
Blake Wheeler - Special to NHL.com
We landed in Washington, D.C., late Sunday afternoon and had the rest of the day off. I was able to relax and watch some of the football games that were on. It was nice to get some rest after two tough pretournament games, but I think me and the rest of the guys are excited to ramp things up and get to the real thing.
For now, we are doing our best to get ready for the start of the World Cup.
Playing Team Canada was tough but Team Finland will be a totally different challenge. They play really hard and they always have great goaltending. They also are a very tough defensive team. I think it will be a good challenge to really help us get ready for the tournament. It's the last game before the World Cup starts Saturday, so it should be tough. Guys want to get ready for the real thing and it's going to be here in just a couple days.
As NHL players continue off-season training in preparation for another run at the Stanley Cup, a select few will have a different trophy in their sights next month.
The World Cup of Hockey returns for the first time in 20 years this September, and a total of seven Winnipeg Jets players will take to the ice in the tournament, with an additional two heading to the event in staff roles.
Dustin Byfuglien and Blake Wheeler will suit up for USA, Ondrej Pavelec will wear the colours of the Czech Republic, Patrik Laine will represent Finland, while Mark Scheifele, Connor Hellebuyck, and Jacob Trouba will play for North America.
Team Europe will also have representation from the Winnipeg Jets, with Paul Maurice serving as an assistant coach to Ralph Krueger. Jason McMaster, Winnipeg's Equipment Manager, will have the same title with Europe as well.
Over the last few months three faces have transitioned from part-time roles to full-time with the Winnipeg Jets True North Foundation (WJTNF). Alex Kampen, Cheyenne Davis, and Nick Sasaki joined WJTNF on a full-time basis in roles with the Winnipeg Jets Hockey Academy (WJHA).
Winnipeg Jets prospect Jack Roslovic is ready for his next challenge.
The 2015 first-round selection (25th overall) signed a three-year entry-level contract worth an average annual value of $1.1375M Monday, ending his NCAA career after one season with the Miami (of Ohio) University RedHawks.
Roslovic, 19, will now attend his first NHL training camp in the fall, which will include the annual Young Stars Classic in Penticton, BC.
"I'm very excited," he said over the phone from his off-season home. "Being my first NHL camp, it's going to be a great test for me to see how I match up with all the talent in the organization, and against other teams."
The ‘Hot Line’ to be inaugural inductees to the Winnipeg Jets Hall of Fame
/ Winnipeg Jets
Winnipeg, MB - The Winnipeg Jets™ Hockey Club announced today that Anders Hedberg, Bobby Hull and Ulf Nilsson will be the first inductees into a newly created Winnipeg Jets Hall of Fame. The three players were members of the prolific 'Hot Line', which, as a trio, led the Winnipeg Jets to two World Hockey Association (WHA) championships in 1976 and 1978, and remains one of the most potent lines in professional hockey history. Members of Hot Line will be honoured in the inaugural Winnipeg Jets Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Wednesday, October 19, 2016 at the MTS Centre when the Winnipeg Jets play the Toronto Maple Leafs®.
Winnipeg, MB - The Winnipeg Jets announced they have agreed to terms with restricted free agent forwards Joel Armia and Adam Lowry on two-year, one-way contracts. Armia's contract carries an AAV of $925,000 while Lowry's AAV is $1.125 million.
Winnipeg, MB - The Winnipeg Jets announced they have agreed to terms with restricted free agent centre Mark Scheifele on a new eight-year contract worth $49 million with an AAV of $6.125 million per season.
WINNIPEG - Mathieu Perreault and the Winnipeg Jets agreed to terms Thursday on a four-year, $16.5M ($4.125M AAV) contract extension, keeping the versatile forward in Winnipeg through his 33rd birthday.
Mitchell Clinton (@MClinton007)
/ Winnipeg Jets
WINNIPEG -- This was the first year that Winnipeg Jets development camp had two scrimmages during the week, and Logan Stanley made sure to make his final skate at MTS Iceplex count before heading home to train.
Stanley scored two beautiful goals during today's game, helping Team Blue to a 6-4 win over Team White. For Stanley, it was a sign of the comfort that had been growing all week.
WINNIPEG - Winnipeg Jets Development Camp continued Monday as Groups A and B took part in the on-ice testing component - a puck-less portion of camp that included the dreaded "beep test," where a player's aerobic capacity is measured in a lengthy and multi-faceted test of endurance.
The players began testing at 9:45 and after chiselling the sheets for more than two hours at high speed, Day 2 came to exhausting end as team brass looked on.